Impact of the Omicron variant remains uncertain
by Steven Felschundneff | firstname.lastname@example.org
News that the first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the United States had been confirmed in San Francisco prompted the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to issue a statement for residents who may be concerned about this new mutated virus.
“While the impact of Omicron is uncertain, it is clear there are immediate action steps everyone can take to protect each other and slow transmission,” public health officials said in a statement on Wednesday.
The county already has in place some of the most restrictive protocols in the state, including mandatory masking indoors regardless of vaccine status and immunization proof required at bars and some other places that serve alcohol. These and voluntary actions, such as self quarantining if one is sick or has been in close contact with a person who tested positive, should be effective at slowing the spread of the new variant.
However, the most effective preventive tool remains getting as many county residents vaccinated, and boosted, as soon aspossible.
“Vaccines remain the most effective tool and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) encourages everyone 5 and older not yet vaccinated or boosted to do so with a sense of urgency,” health officials said. “The vaccines are effective against the Delta variant and very effective against earlier strains of the virus, which gives us hope that these same vaccines will also provide some protection against Omicron.”
The San Francisco resident who tested positive for the Omicron variant had traveled to South Africa, which is the apparent source of the new mutation. This individual is fully vaccinated and is experiencing mild symptoms of the disease, according to the Washington Post.
Public health is coordinating with state health officials to determine when the Omicron variant reaches Los Angeles County. Currently between 1,500 to 5,000 positive specimens from L.A. County residents are sequenced each week to identify the specific variant with results reported to both locally and the state. The Delta variant currently accounts for nearly 100% of infections in the county.
Testing is also an important tool in fighting community spread, and public health encourages anyone who has traveled internationally or to an area in this country where there is high transmission of the virus to get tested.
“Residents are reminded that they are legally required to isolate if they have a positive COVID test result and that vaccinated close contacts with symptoms and unvaccinated close contacts need to quarantine,” health officials said.
On Wednesday public heath reported 18 deaths and 1,473 new COVID-19 cases in the county, and 562 people currently hospitalized. The county has recorded 1,528,568 cumulative cases and 27,184 deaths.
This week one more Claremont resident had died from COVID-19 bringing the total mortality to 70. The county is reporting 31 new cases for a cumulative total of 3077.